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Broadband Initiative

Broadband Initiative

Improved broadband coverage is critical to  ensure that your business succeeds.

This spring, the Vilas County Economic Development Corporation (VCEDC) initiated a research study to interview the Vilas County town chairmen and their subject matter experts, as well as the county internet service providers (ISPs) to better understand the scope of broadband in our county. 

We are inspired by the tremendous engagement that we have received from the towns, the Lac du Flambeau tribe, and ISP leadership on our research study, and look forward to continuing this important discussion.  We have posted a summary of our work on this page. We are in fact making a significant positive difference to expand and enhance broadband and cell coverage in Vilas County. 

Our objective: to ensure Vilas County has sufficient broadband to sustain and grow its economy and culture for future generations. We have shared our research with our community, and are now working with our townships and the Lac du Flambeau tribe on strategies to move forward.  

We hope this resource page is helpful, and as always, should you have any questions or if we can be of any service please contact Kathy Schmitz, VCEDC Executive Director, at [email protected] Thank you.

February 2021

Understanding Broadband

By Jonathan Sharp, Software Engineer, Nvidia-A Fortune 500 Company; Professional Volunteer VCEDC Board of Directors

Broadband. This is the most crucial aspect of remote working.

For many jobs, productivity and progress are directly tied to the availability and reliability of broadband.

The ability to access broadband is the most important part of a remote workers “commute.”

Factors in Picking Broadband

Before we go into the summary of evaluating a broadband connection, let us define the attributes of an internet connection. Using these attributes, we can measure the quality of a connection, how it will perform, and finally use it to compare various connectivity options.


Bandwidth – This is the general term used to describe the overall speed of a connection. To use a plumbing analogy, you can think of this as “the size of a pipe in which water is flowing through”. There are two directions of “water” flow when discussing an internet connection; “download” and “upload.

Download – This is the measured speed at which data is sent “down” from the internet to you, the end user. In the majority of connections, this is the fastest side of the connection. Connections are usually rated in “Mega-bits” (Mbps). Connections in the 6-50 Mbps range are common. Some of the fastest connections are rated in “Giga-bits” (Gbps) which is 1,000 Mbps.

Upload – This is the measured speed at which data is sent from you “up” to the internet. This speed is measured in “Kilo-bits” or Mbps (1,000 Kbps = 1 Mbps). Speeds in the range of 768 Kbps to 5 Mbps are common. In the majority of internet connections, the upload speed is much slower than the download speed. For example, an 18Mbps [down] - 1.8Mbps [up] is common.

Latency – The latency of a connection is the amount of time that it takes for a packet of data to travel from point A to point B over a connection. (It can be the measurement of one-way or of round trip.) Latency is generally measured in “milli-seconds” (ms) which is 1/1,000th of a second. Performant connections have round trip latency of 30 ms or less. Average connections have a latency in the range of 40 – 100 ms. Traditional satellite connections (Hughesnet, Viasat, Exceed, etc.) have a latency of roughly 600+ ms. The latest generation of Starlink satellite has latency of around 40ms.

Transfer Quotas – The transfer quota is the total amount of data you can send/receive (upload and/or download) over a given period of time. This aspect of an internet connection has increasingly become an issue with streaming services such Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, etc.

Quotas are in most cases measured in “Giga-bytes” (GB). (It is worth noting that “Giga-bytes” and “Giga-bits” (measurement of speed) are different. There are 8 “bits” in 1 “byte”. So to get the “bytes” from a “bits” measurement, simply divide by 8.) Transferring data at full speed over a 1 Gbps (giga-bit) connection for 8 seconds will equate to 1 GB (giga-byte) worth of data (in theory in a perfect world). (Storage on hard drives, USB drives, etc. is measured in “bytes.”)

The amount of data transferred over the course of a month can vary widely for a remote worker. E-mail is usually of little consequence towards the quota. Video and screen sharing as well as syncing large files can quickly add up. Average monthly transfer amounts (ignoring Netflix or non-work-related use) can range from 20 GB to upwards of 100+ GB depending upon applications used and your job role.

Bonus Terms

Symmetric vs. Asymmetric – The relationship of upload and download speeds can be described as “Symmetric” or “Asymmetric”. A symmetric connection is one in which both upload and download speeds are equal. Gigabit fiber, for example, is a symmetric connection of 1 Gbps / 1 Gbps (download / upload).

An asymmetric connection is one in which upload and download differ. Most cable internet connections are asymmetric connections.

Broadband Technology Options

Connections are described as download / upload. So a 12 Mbps / 1.5 Mbps connection has a download speed of 12 and an upload of 1.5. Below are the most common broadband technologies.


DSL connections are generally the most common connections available in household markets. DSL connections are usually limited in the bandwidth available as well as limited availability of speeds in relation to how far a customer is from the phone company’s central office. Connections are usually asymmetric.


Cable connections are a step up from DSL connections in terms of available speeds and general reliability (for most people). They average the same or better latency as DSL connections. The defining characteristics for cable connections are the available upload speeds and any possible data caps (which are generally very high). Connections are usually asymmetric.

Fixed Wireless

Fixed Wireless connections are internet connections via land based towers. Cell phone providers have entered the data connectivity markets. Examples of these connections are often described as “4G”, “LTE”, or “5G” connections. These connections have a higher latency than DSL or Cable connections and much stricter data quotas. Connections are asymmetric.

Traditional Satellite

Traditional Satellite connections are a last resort for many people in rural areas. Latency is greatest for these connections in the range of close to 600+ ms (it is a LONG way to the satellite, back to earth, and then back again). Transfer speeds can reach 50+Mbps if you are willing to subscribe to premium packages. These connections usually have strict data quotas and are more expensive overall with multi-year commitments being part of most contracts. Connections are asymmetric.

Next Generation Satellite

Starlink is a new generation of satellite internet that overcomes limitations of previous generations in both latency, speeds and data caps. Starlink has latency of around 40ms (close to DSL or Cable connections) and speeds up to 150Mbps initially with plans to reach 300Mpbs by the end of 2021. Connections are asymmetric.


Connections are usually symmetric. This is the holy grail of internet connectivity. If you have a fiber connection at 1 Gbps you have basically achieved broadband “singularity” with the internet.







Transfer Quotas

Example Providers


1.5-100 Mbps

256 Kbps to 5 Mbps

Your local telephone company

40-150 ms



10-1000 Mbps

10-100 Mbps

Charter, Cox, Comcast, TimeWarner

40-150 ms

30-400 GB to Unlimited

Fixed Wireless

5 Mbps to 35 Mbps

2-10 Mbps

4G, LTE, WiMax

150 ms

10-100 GB

Traditional Satellite

5-150 Mbps

1-5 Mbps

Hughes, Exede/Viasat

600 ms

10-50 GB


Next Gen Satellite


15-40 Mbps


40 ms



20 Mbps to 1 Gbps

20 Mbps to 1 Gbps

(Generally symmetrical)

Verizon FiOS

20-150 ms

Generally uncapped

Testing Your Connection

You may not be aware of how fast your connection is, but there is a simple way to find out. You can use speed test tools such as by ookla. Be aware though that your test results may vary greatly based upon the time of day. You may receive slower results in the evenings when video streaming is popular than in the middle of the day.


February 2021

Vilas County named in Top 10 for best tech practices in US

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. — Vilas County was recently named in the Top 10 of the 18th annual Digital Counties Survey.

The survey, conducted by Center for Digital Government (CDG) in partnership with the National Association of Counties (NACo), identifies the best technology practices among U.S. counties, including initiatives that streamline delivery of government services; encourage open data, collaboration, and shared services; enhance cyber­-security; and contribute to disaster response and recovery efforts.

“We applaud this year’s Digital Counties Survey winners for maximizing the benefits of technology in serving our residents, especially during a time when technology has become even more instrumental in connecting people and places,” said NACo Executive Director Matthew Chase. “The Digital Counties Survey demonstrates how we embrace cutting-edge approaches to strengthening our communities and achieving healthy, safe and vibrant counties across America.”

The Vilas County Economic Development Corporation is pleased to have Mike Duening, Vilas County IT Director, serve on its board of directors as a professional volunteer, and on the VCEDC Broadband Workgroup.  

For more information about the recognition visit:

September 2020

Boulder Junction and CenturyLink Agree on Highspeed Broadband Contract  

Please CLICK HERE for the news release

For detailed information on the Boulder Junction Broadband Project click here:

Train the Trainer Tips & Techniques for Developing Broadband in Your Community.  October 2020


September 21, 2020

The VCEDC is sharing this information on behalf of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC)
Office of Rural Prosperity:

WEDC’s Office of Rural Prosperity is pleased to partner with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to announce a new Broadband Connectors Pilot initiative. 

Through this pilot, WEDC will work with six communities during fall 2020 to foster a better understanding of the type(s) of technical assistance they need most to apply for state, federal or private broadband programs. The lessons learned from this initiative will be shared with communities throughout the state through incorporation in Wisconsin’s Playbook for Broadband Progress.  

To be eligible to participate in WEDC’s Broadband Connectors Pilot initiative, applicants must be one of the following: local government (city, village, town or county), tribal government, or school district. 

The application period will be September 21-30, 2020. The application form will be available online starting on Monday, September 21. Click here for more information and the application:

September 1, 2020

The Lakeland Times




Wisconsin Public Service Commission – Broadband Expansion Grants and Resources -

Broadband Now – Great resource for all things Broadband -

Federal Communications Commission – Connect America Fund (CAF) -

Remoters.Net – Information for Remote Working Professionals -

USDA Reconnect Pilot Program – “CAF III) -

Broadband USA Funding Opportunities – A database of Available Funds -


Internet Service Providers (ISPs)

Astrea Connect -

AT&T -

CenturyLink -

Charter/Spectrum -

ChoiceTel -

Frontier Communications -

Gogebic Range -

HughNet -

SonicNet –

Starlink -

T-Mobile -  

Verizon -

ViaSat -

Want to learn why Vilas County is one of the best places to live, work, and play?

We can email you a PDF highlighting many of the wonderful aspects of our area.

Download this 8-page PDF article here: